Australia reduces gender pay gap to 21.3%

Number of women in management positions increased by 39.1 per cent


Australia has reduced the gender wage gap by 3.4 points in the last five years despite the fact that women continue to earn on average less than 80 per cent of what men earn, according to a government study published on Tuesday.

According to data by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), between fiscal years 2013-14 and 2017-18 the salary difference between men and women was reduced from 24.7 per cent to 21.3 per cent, with a 1.1 point improvement in the last year.

It was also highlighted that during the same period the number of women in management positions increased by 3.2 points to 39.1 per cent.

On the other hand, the institution lamented the "glass ceiling" which still persists in positions of leadership and executive management, where there was only a slight increase of women by 1.4 points to 17.1 per cent, and of the presence in boards of directors, with a rise from 2.1 points to 25.8 per cent.

The agency also denounced the decline in the access to parental benefits for the main caregiver, which dropped 0.7 points to 47.8 per cent. This in the context of women accounting for 94.9 per cent of all primary carer’s leave utilised, with men accounting for only 5.1 per cent.

"Although the gender pay gap has narrowed every year, progress is too slow," WGEA Director Libby Lyons said in a statement.

"Glass walls persist in industry segregation, which remains deeply entrenched in Australia. The glass ceiling is still a barrier for women at the CEO and board levels," Lyons added.

Women make up 80 per cent of the health care workforce and 70 per cent of its managers the report said, which means "we need to encourage more women into management and more men into caring roles", Lyons said.

The opposition Labour Party has proposed that companies with more than a thousand workers make salary information public to combat gender inequality, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison considers that such a measure would create labour conflicts.

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